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Manchester City moved back to the top of the Premier League with a swagger on Sunday, as they destroyed a hapless Chelsea 6-0 at the Etihad Stadium.
The first half was a demolition job from City, with Raheem Sterling firing them ahead after just four minutes.
The floodgates opened after that goal, with Sergio Aguero scoring twice in the space of six minutes, the first of which was a stunning long-range effort. In the 25th minute Ilkay Gundogan made it four when his shot from the edge of the box squirmed past Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.
In the second period City took total control and Aguero completed his second hat-trick in a week from the penalty spot. Sterling was then on hand to complete the rout late on with his second of the day.
This emphatic victory for Pep Guardiola’s team sees them go ahead of Liverpool on goal difference. The Reds, who beat Bournemouth 3-0 on Saturday, have a game in hand on City.
Sarri Must Adapt Style to Save Job
While it was well known that Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri would seek to bring his defined style to the club, the flaws of the setup were ruthlessly exposed by City in the opening 25 minutes of the game.
Chelsea pressed high up the field and left spaces for City’s creative players to run riot. Defensively, Jorginho was left exposed in front of the back four, with Ross Barkley and N’Golo Kante also well off their game.
Having lost 4-0 to Bournemouth in their previous away game, it’s clear something isn’t functioning for Sarri at the moment. Daniel Harris of the Guardian thinks the manager needs to adapt:
Daniel Harris @DanielHarris
Every manager in football history has changed style and formation depending on the opponent. But Maurizio Sarri, who has a grand total of zero trophies in 29 years, knows better. Er, ok mate.
Results like this mauling and the loss to Bournemouth will heap massive pressure on Sarri, especially with Chelsea now out of the top four. Nevertheless, Blues blogger Russell Saunders thinks the club needs to stick with the Italian:
Russell Saunders @bridgeviews
I don’t know whether Sarri has ‘it’ or not. But you don’t bring someone like him in to change how a team have been playing for 15 years and then fire him after seven months, just because it’s not immediately great. So the question is: is Sarri the guy we thought we were hiring?
Sarri’s opposing manager on Sunday in Guardiola endured some low points in his first season at City and was able to learn from them. Now he’s a manager who makes subtle changes in his system and personnel depending on the opposition.
It’s imperative the Chelsea boss learns from his example, or he may not be at Stamford Bridge for too much longer.
Ruthless Streak Vital to City’s Title Hopes
There have been times this season when City have let complacency creep into their game after going ahead, with Crystal Palace, Leicester City and Newcastle United all coming from behind to beat them this term. This game was an indication that they have their ruthlessness back.
After Sterling’s opener, City seized on their vulnerable opponents. While Aguero somehow missed from close range, he showed his class with a stunning finish and then a poacher’s effort before wrapping up his hat-trick after the break.
Following on from another treble against Arsenal a week ago, the Argentina international is enjoying one of his best spells of form in a City shirt. Indeed, the forward was able to reach a top-flight landmark:
B/R Football @brfootball
Most Premier League hat-tricks ever:
Football journalist Michael Cox praised the way the striker has been able to adapt in crucial games:
Michael Cox @Zonal_Marking
Aguero’s miles better than he was a couple of years ago. For all his goals, in big games he sometimes used to cause City tactical problems. You’d never say that now
This ruthlessness will not only win City more points, but in a season where they remain in contention for four trophies, getting into comfortable positions will allow them to conserve energy and rotate players.
On this evidence, they’re a threat in all four competitions and a few more sides will be on the end of similarly lopsided scorelines at the Etihad before the end of the campaign.
City will face Newport County in Round 5 of the FA Cup on Saturday, while Chelsea are in action in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday when they travel to Malmo.